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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,


I'm new to the Home Automation forum, but not AVSForum. I spend most of my time in the HTPC Linux forum. I'm looking to get into home automation. I'm new to it - if you don't can't various timers, motion sensor lights, my EtherRain sprinkler controller, my Visonic PowerMax security system, Zoneminder video surveillance system, and various jobs I have my HTPCs and servers do at home. I'm looking do a few things to start and then be inspired and learn and expand over time. Some of the things I know I want to be able to do:
  • Report when garage doors are open at times they shouldn't be
  • Sense when my wife arrives in the garage and flash a particular set of lights in the house (So I know to change the channel if I'm watching something I don't let my little ones watch).
  • Control a door lock
  • Cut power to a portable heater and measure it's power usage when it's on
  • Cut power to a couple of other outlets
  • Be able to remotely control some lights in the house
  • Monitor temperature, smoke, carbon monoxide levels
  • Totally optional, but integration with my irrigation system and security system would be nice.


There are a lot of options out there. I've looked through this forum and other places and have settled on Z-wave because of it's pervasiveness, support, and # of sensors available. I am looking at 2 different approaches to getting started (controller approaches):


1. Get a veralite or Hometroller Zee. I'm not interested in controllers than can only be controlled from a smartphone or via a cloud service otherwise I'd probably be leaning towards SmartThings

2. Run an controller on one of my servers using the Aeon Z-stick or some equivalent. Been leaning towards trying out Homegenie.


I don't want to spend a ton of time in maintenance but I'm fine with investigating and exploring setup and taking time to learn how to use things (I don't have much free time in a day, but I'm not in a hurry so I'll take the time I need). I'm pretty technically inclined. But since I'm more experimenting a lower budget to entry would be good so that's why I look at option 2 (plus I'm used to running many things on my servers).


Any advice on choosing between to the two options or another option/controller I should consider? At this point I'm leaning towards trying out 2 to start with. If someone has experience with Homegenie or some other Linux compatible controller software I'd love to hear it.


Thanks for any help you can give.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Looking more into it, I've ruled out HomeGenie. Has a nice UI and some other desirable features, but it appears to be maintained by one person so I'll pass. I will look for another software solution that I like for Linux. Until then I'm leaning toward Veralite or Hometroller Zee. Any thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My research and requirements have led me to probably purchase the veralite. It doesn't seem to support any presence sensors but their are apparently ways around that with an RFID device or using your cell phone. Now I'm on to picking some preliminary sensors, finding the best starting bundle and then making a purchase and getting started.


As I haven't made my purchase yet, any advice is still appreciated.
 

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I think you're on the right track given your requirements. Have you looked into Open Remote? I don't know much about it but seems like it would cover a few of your points... Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth_J  /t/1520807/advice-on-starting-with-home-automation/0_100#post_24450535


I think you're on the right track given your requirements. Have you looked into Open Remote? I don't know much about it but seems like it would cover a few of your points... Good luck!

I had come across it, but perhaps I didn't look into it enough. I thought it might require a lot more work to be useful than other solutions... But I will look into it again more closely before making a final decision.


Thanks!
 

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I'm not up on DIY home automation but I know a lot of people like Vera (getvera.com).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I looked into openremote and once you get past 10 devices it looks like you need to pay and although it looked like it had great flexibility I decided to go with a veralite controller. I can use openremote with vera in the future if I want, but for now I start with vera. I just purchased the vera and a 3 devices to test it out and gain familiarity. I will build out from there. Thanks!
 

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Ok. Good luck. Feel free to report back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm a couple days into this now, but I thought I'd give an update in case anyone cares. I unwrapped my vera and plugged it in and followed the insructions that came with it, that lead me to upgrading the UI all the way to UI6. Looking at the forums (which are a pain to register for and post to - almost like hazing
, I hope it becomes easier as I post more) going to UI6 was probably a bad idea and not even intended by Vera? Well that's unfortunate because their instructions lead you that way. So I'm in a state of not know which plugins do and don't work with Vera, but I'm not really that advanced yet. The UI is clunky - UI6 seems to be a mix of a newer cleaner UI that drops you into the old UI for anything close to advanced functionality. Also, for some reason I can't get the remote access for UI6 working - it always wants me to go to the local UI IP, which obviously doesn't work off my network. Not a big deal as I can remotelly connect to my home network anyway.


It looks like I'll have a good learning curve, but I'm not to worried about that. So far I've added a garage door opening sensor, a power meter/switch (monitor how much juice some equipment is running and turn it off when I want to) and a light switch. Adding all of them to Vera was simple as was controlling them. I've only setup one test scene (when garage door opens text me and turn on a light) and that was pretty easy. I want to do some more advanced scene with that scenario (when the garage door opens if my wife's phone is on the network [presence], flash the light). I don't know how to do that yet, but I'll figure that out. Meanwhile, I have a couple of more energy monitors on the way, and I'm trying to find out if this system can integrate with my security system (no one has said the plugin that integrates with my security system works in the UI6 yet, and I don't want to buy the things I need to buy to connect them without knowing if it will work - the plugin developer doesn't use the new UI and thus doesn't know). I also want to figure out how to setup an Apache reverse proxy with vera so I can securely forward the web server out through my aready secure SSL connection.


All in all, it's been rough around the edges, but I think as I learn (and as the UI improves) this will be a good experience. I'll keep updating as I learn more and have time in case others are interested.
 

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Thanks for the update.  I am interested in your progress, please keep us posted.  I am about to embark on something similar and your information is helpful.  Will you be creating a list of the sensors and switches you have found compatible?  Perhaps another list like you have of your A/V Gear?

 

Cheers!

 

Jim
 

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I am curious about your progress with this product going forward as well. Thanks for the update.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by shocksystems  /t/1520807/advice-on-starting-with-home-automation/0_100#post_24485471


Thanks for the update.  I am interested in your progress, please keep us posted.  I am about to embark on something similar and your information is helpful.  Will you be creating a list of the sensors and switches you have found compatible?  Perhaps another list like you have of your A/V Gear?


Cheers!


Jim

good idea, Jim. I added a list. It includes a lot of stuff I consider automation that isn't tied to my veralite. Before I thought to use veralite (z-wave) I was using various timers and occupancy/vacancy sensors for some automation. They work well and i don't plan on replacing them anytime soon. I'll work through the house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe277  /t/1520807/advice-on-starting-with-home-automation/0_100#post_24486222


I am curious about your progress with this product going forward as well. Thanks for the update.

So far it's okay. Plan on writing my first lua code to toggle the light switch when the garage door opens during certain times of day (and send me a text/email). Then i plan on setting up a scene that sends me a notification if the garage is open during business hours during the week.


I'll keep updating as I get more equipment and do more configs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So I thought I'd give another update. I finally wrote a couple of snippets of Lua code that conditionally notify me that the garage is open and/or flash a light in my house when the garage is open, based on time of day and a few other factors. It took a while to get the code right, but it was a good exercise that taught me a lot. Now I've found their are plugins that make conditional logic a lot easier (and don't require code) and I've found tutorials and sample code snippets for a lot of common things. So far so good. I went and ordered some more z-wave equipment (more energy meters, another garage door sensor for my other garage door, a flood/temp sensor for my basement). We'll see how setting that all goes.


I'm going to investigate plugins a bit more and see what they can offer me. I'm also investigating which switches I want to standardize on (leaning towards leviton even though they are pricier than GE/Jasco - but they offer more features and longer warranties). I also want to install a z-wave compatible deadbolt lock in my garage. Many projects to keep me busy this year. Piece by piece. So far, I think I made the right decision going with Vera, but it definitely is a fairly steep learning curve and I'm at the bottom.
 

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I left Vera to go to the mac based indigo system. It has a great support and developer community and supports zwave/insteon. One issue is lock support but that isn't an issue for me. You might want to check it out!



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by adaminnj  /t/1520807/advice-on-starting-with-home-automation/0_100#post_24526781


I left Vera to go to the mac based indigo system. It has a great support and developer community and supports zwave/insteon. One issue is lock support but that isn't an issue for me. You might want to check it out!



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Why did you leave Vera (and when?). So far I'm okay with Vera so not looking at switching this early. Locks are something I want to do so that is important to me. I no longer have a Mac at home - I think in my scan I thought indigo only ran on Macs - that true?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Update - I added a z-wave enabled relay and open/close sensor to my garage and now I can close and open my garage via the home automation. I also added z-wave enabled deadlock for my garage door. So far things are pretty cool.


I also installed the whole home energy monitor and when I get time I'll install and configure the datamine plugin for monitor home energy usage.


I decided to standardize on Aeon micro smart switches for my lighting control. they are a little harder to install, but allow me to keep my same light switches, work in three way settings without having to buy a companion, and report energy usage. They are also less expensive.


Now I can do things like turn all lights on my first floor off, monitor my garage doors and remotely close it if it is left open by someone in the family (and get notified of this), and remotely lock and unlock the garage door entry. When people come home at night the light in the garage entry automatically comes on so people can see when they enter the house, and turns off 5 minutes later in case people forget to turn it off...


Next up, more light switch control, more outlet/energy monitors, configuring data mine, and connecting up my alarm system...
 

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I'm very interested to see how this progresses for you, my Fiance and I are looking at buying a new home in the next few months and home automation is something I want to start playing with. Something a little more DIY and Inexpensive is likely the route I'm going to take and I already have a handfull of zwave switches so being Vera supports zwave makes it a strong front runner. Are you planning on doing much with Security beyond the garage door monitoring?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mklukas  /t/1520807/advice-on-starting-with-home-automation/0_100#post_24578818


I'm very interested to see how this progresses for you, my Fiance and I are looking at buying a new home in the next few months and home automation is something I want to start playing with. Something a little more DIY and Inexpensive is likely the route I'm going to take and I already have a handfull of zwave switches so being Vera supports zwave makes it a strong front runner. Are you planning on doing much with Security beyond the garage door monitoring?



For security I have the door lock that I've installed in my garage. I'll probably put a z-wave lock on my front door. I already have a security system separate from my z-wave. I have door sensors and motion detectors tied to my Visonic Powermax security system which is monitored by a 3rd party as well as alerts me to various events I specify. I also have security cameras in various locations that I control with Zoneminder. Vera has a plugin for powermax security systems. I need to buy a couple of parts to be able to connect them, and I haven't had time to try it out. This would allow me to use the status from my alarm system sensors in Vera triggers and scenes, as well as I tie triggers and scenes to arming/disarming alarm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Over the weekend I configured the dataMine plugin. Was a little tricky (not well documented) but the result is great - way better than the default energy monitoring plugin. Now I have good data on the power usage of various things, and I'll have more when I get a few more energy monitors. Gives a good idea of what is using energy and has already led to some savings, optimizations and awareness. Although the savings would have to take a while to pay for all the monitors
= but the monitors have other functions as well...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I've now integrated my security system with the Vera. I've connected my PowerMax Complete to the Vera via a serial to USB adapter. The Vera plugin allows me to use my security sensors (door sensors, motion sensors, etc.) to trigger scenes and I can arm/disarm my panel via Vera (although I already could monitor my security system and sensors over the Internet, as well as arm/disarm).


I did run into one problem. If you can avoid it, don't install the ERGY plugin. It caused problems and stopped my vera from working properly (everything was slow and delayed or didn;t work). This is a common problem with this plugin, unfortunately it is the default plugin that is installed if you want energy reporting. I use datamine exclusively now.


I also added a few more micro switches and now all my main floor lights can be controlled and monitored by Vera. So can most of my basement.
 
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